Preventing_Identity_Theft

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					Preventing Identity Theft

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1086

Summary:
What is Identity Theft? It is the theft of your personal information,
such as social security number, driver's license number, credit card and
bank account numbers, mother's maiden name, and more, with the intent to
obtain credit and credit cards from banks and retailers, steal money from
the victim's existing accounts, apply for loans, establish accounts with
utility companies, rent an apartment, file bankruptcy or obtain a job
using the victim's name.


Keywords:
credit,card,visa,mastercard,score,rating,bank,consumer,debt,consolidation
,identity,theft


Article Body:
What is Identity Theft? It is the theft of your personal information,
such as social security number, driver's license number, credit card and
bank account numbers, mother's maiden name, and more, with the intent to
obtain credit and credit cards from banks and retailers, steal money from
the victim's existing accounts, apply for loans, establish accounts with
utility companies, rent an apartment, file bankruptcy or obtain a job
using the victim's name.

Did you know that in some states Identity Theft is not even against the
law? The victim has to prove their innocence. This shocks most Identity
Theft Victims, as it should. It shocks me. Law Enforcement and Credit
Card Services should be there to help, but in many cases they don't.

Being prepared, just in case someone steals your identity is a must. It
may be inconvenient, but unless you want to go out and try to use your
credit card one day, just to find that someone else has been using your
identity to make purchases and your card is no longer accepted, then you
need to take steps to prevent your identity from being stolen. It can
take years to clear this up if it happens to you, so a little prevention
now is the answer.

Facts about Identity Theft;

 It is considered by law enforcement to be an absolute epidemic,
the fastest growing crime in the United States at this time.
 For the criminal, identity theft is a relatively low-risk, high-
reward endeavor. Credit card issuers often don't prosecute thieves who
are apprehended. Why? The firms figure it's not cost efficient. They can
afford to write off a certain amount of fraud as a cost of doing
business.
 Recently criminals have been using the victim's identity to
commit crimes ranging form traffic infractions to felonies. How would you
like to find out you are wanted for a crime you know nothing about? It
has happened.
 All that is needed is your social security number, your birth
date and other identifying information such as your address and phone
number and whatever else they can find out about you. With this
information, and a false driver's license with their own picture, they
can begin the crime.
 If you wait until it happens to you, it's a nightmare. You won't
know until you are denied credit or a creditor contacts you about a
charge you know nothing about.

How do I prevent Identity Theft?

At Home;
 If you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work
done in your home, make sure your personal information is not readily
available to them.
 Deposit your outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at
your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly
remove mail from your mailbox. If you're planning to be away from home
and can't pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-
8777 to request a vacation hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail
at your local post office until you can pick it up or are home to receive
it.
 Tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit
applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank
statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit
offers you get in the mail. To opt out of receiving offers of credit in
the mail, call: 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).
 Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary,
and ask to use other types of identifiers. If your state uses your Social
Security number as your driver's license number, ask to substitute
another number. Do the same if your health insurance company uses your
Social Security number as your policy number.

At Work;
 Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or
at businesses, doctor's offices or other institutions that collect your
personally identifying information. Find out who has access to your
personal information and verify that it is handled securely. Ask about
the disposal procedures for those records as well. Find out if your
information will be shared with anyone else. If so, ask how your
information can be kept confidential. Keep your purse or wallet in a safe
place at work; do the same with copies of administrative forms that have
your sensitive personal information.

Online;
 If you do financial transactions over the Internet, read their
privacy and or security statements. You want to know who they share your
personal information with. You want to know they use a "secure server"
for transactions. You want to know how they store your personal
information. If you don't like what you hear, don't do your business at
that website. There are always alternatives.
 Use PayPal. You can transfer a limited number of funds into your
paypal account and use it to buy merchandise online instead of your
credit card.
 Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the
mail, or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure
you know who you're dealing with.
 Before you share any personal information, confirm that you are
dealing with a legitimate organization. Check an organization's website
by typing its URL in the address line, rather than cutting and pasting
it. Be cautious when responding to promotions. Identity thieves may
create phony promotional offers to get you to give them your personal
information.

Going Out;
 Carry only the identification information and the credit and
debit cards that you'll actually need when you go out. Don't carry your
social security card with you unless you expect to need it.

Should I buy identity theft insurance?

Some companies offer insurance or similar products that claim to give you
protection against the costs associated with resolving an identity theft
case. Be aware that most creditors will only deal with you to resolve
problems, so the insurance company in most cases will not be able to
reduce that burden. As with any product or service, make sure you
understand what you're getting before you buy. If you decide to buy an
identity theft insurance product, check out the company with your local
Better Business Bureau, consumer protection agency and state Attorney
General to see if they have any complaints on file.

Conclusion: Be smart. If someone is asking for your personal information,
anyone, including friends, acquaintances, companies, stores, websites, or
anyone else, ask questions. Find out why they need this information, what
they are going to do with it, how long do they keep it stored, who they
share it with, and how can you be sure it is going to be kept secure.